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Thursday, May 26, 2011



The Hangover Part II is a 2011 comedy film directed by Todd Phillips that serves as a sequel to the 2009 smash-hit, The Hangover. This time around, we're heading off to Thailand as Stu (Ed Helms) prepares to marry Lauren (Jamie Chung). As one can imagine, his best friends Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) are headed there as well, and a late addition sees the slightly-troubled Alan (Zach Galifianakis) also attending the wedding. Much to Stu's reluctance, he's talked into having a beer after a pre-wedding party, and fans of the original film will know exactly where the film is going. The following morning, Stu, Phil and Alan awaken in a seedy motel in Bangkok without any memory of the night before. The key difference, however, is that they haven't lost Doug; instead, they've managed to lose Lauren's sixteen-year-old brother Teddy (Mason Lee). As they try to piece together the events of the previous night in order to find their lost friend, they utilize the help of a familiar face in Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), whose status as an international criminal only muddies their plans.

After The Hangover raked in nearly $280 million in the United States and garnered a Golden Globe win for Best Musical or Comedy, anyone could've guessed that a sequel loomed somewhere on the horizon. Rather than take us back to Las Vegas, the screenwriters chose to take us somewhere a little more exotic. I personally think that Thailand proved to be a perfect choice, considering a lot of the stereotypes that we Westerners have concerning the seedy areas there. So as one can imagine, I had high hopes going into this flick.

Unfortunately, Part II didn't really reach those expectations, at least for me. Everyone in my theater was rolling with laughter, and while I did laugh quite a bit, I couldn't quite see how any of it was different than the previous film. Aside from the locale, Part II seemed more like a remake than a sequel. A lot of the jokes seemed forced, and the best ones were the ones that directly referenced the events of the original film. Yes, some of the jokes are grand, but for the most part, it all felt a little bit stale to me.

Even the level of acting was a little below where it was in the original film. Our lead trio (Helms, Cooper and Galifianakis) should have been the most consistent, but only Galifianakis brings anything close to an A-game. Cooper and Helms are essentially carbon-copies of their previous personas, and while Galifianakis doesn't offer anything drastically different, his character still seems a little bit fresh. Ken Jeong is easily the best part of the film, bringing a much-needed manic energy that the rest of the actors somehow forgot to bring. I was completely glued to the screen whenever Jeong happened to grace it, and I only wish we could've gotten a little bit more. Oh, and Paul Giamatti makes a bit of an extended cameo, but I'm still debating whether it was entirely necessary.

(On a side note, those of you who read my breakdown of the film's original teaser trailer know that I said Liam Neeson would be making a cameo appearance in lieu of the preferred Mel Gibson. I can sadly report that neither of them appears in the film, so don't get your hopes up.)

Ultimately, The Hangover Part II just seemed a little bit off throughout its entire run-time. I think my sister put it best when she said that the original film offered a shock value that no one was really expecting. Because the first film had pushed the limits so far, we came to expect that the sequel would try to do the same. Yes, there's still quite a bit of shock value in Part II, but I think that the audience - and especially myself - was a little more braced for what we were about to see. And I think that works against the film even if it shouldn't. It's terribly difficult to make a sequel that outdoes the original, and Part II doesn't quite reach the level of the original. That's not to say it's not entertaining. I'll be the first to admit that I laughed quite a bit, but that pang of originality that surrounded the original film simply didn't translate to this one.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: B-
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